Theresa Cherry

Principal at Anne Hutchinson School

Peers of Theresa Cherry, principal of Anne Hutchinson School in Eastchester, describe her as something of a modern day Oz: leader of a school where morale is high, teacher-to-principal loyalty is off the charts, and teachers collaborate instead of compete. Cherry’s rapport with teachers is so well regarded that, according to her nominators, the mere mention of Anne Hutchinson stirs envy among those educators not so fortunate as to teach there.

Now, before you attribute Eastchester teachers’ bliss to their, well, favorable demographics (read: $$$), consider that they, too, are smothered by mounting state regulations, strict new teacher-performance evaluations, and Common Core. “In a time when many district administrators are increasing the pressure on their staff,” says teacher  Kathleen Curry Barba, “she diffuses that pressure by focusing on our efforts and accomplishments with all of our students.”

“Last year, we had to adopt the annual professional performance review for staff and principal, and it was quite daunting,” says Cherry. “I remember talking to them and saying, ‘We’re in this together, we’re going to get through it, and you’re not going to all of a sudden become bad teachers because we have a new evaluation system.’”

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After spending her entire career in education at Eastchester, she’s concluded that a high-functioning staff boils down to good relationships. “If people know you care about people, truly from your heart, they respond in kind,” Cherry says. To that end, she meets with each staff member in June “to talk about what went well, what they think we need to work on, and instructional goals for the following year.”

Says Cherry: “It’s important that they think [the goals] are important, and it’s what I think is important.” 

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